Fifty Dead After Mass Shooting at Mosques in New Zealand

The deadliest mass shooting in New Zealand since 1943 took place on Friday, March 15.



First responders at the scene of the mosque shooting in New Zealand on Friday.

Noelia Arteaga , Sports Editor

Fifty people were shot and killed by a white supremacist at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand on Friday, making it New Zealand’s deadliest mass shooting since 1943.

Forty-two people were killed at Al Noor Mosque in the center of Christchurch, and seven were killed at Linwood Mosque, located on the other side of the city. Today, one more person was confirmed to be among the deceased. Schools in the area were on lockdown for several hours after the attacks as police tried to determine details of the shooting.

The New York Times stated that “many of the victims were most likely migrants to New Zealand or refugees.”

Brenton Harrison Tarrant, a 28-year-old man from Australia, was arrested and charged with murder. Two other suspects are currently in custody. The police confirmed that they seized several weapons and found two pipe explosive devices on a vehicle.

New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, condemned the massacre as a terrorist attack and called it “an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence.”

Tarrant wore a camera and broadcasted his attack on Al Noor Mosque live on Facebook. Many questioned social media companies’ abilities to block extremist pages or pages that glorify violence and hate towards a group of people. 

“This is and will be one of New Zealand’s darkest days,” Arden said in a news conference.

The shootings started at about 1:40 pm on Friday, March 15. Minutes before, the gunman posted a white supremacist manifesto to social platforms Twitter and 8chan, listing both mosques as targets. The online forum 8chan is similar to 4chan, but instead of hosting general discussions, it hosts message boards with extreme right-wing views. The 8chan post included a link to what appeared to be the gunman’s Facebook page, where he said he would broadcast the attack live.

This is and will be one of New Zealand’s darkest days.”

— Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand

Following the shooting, Arden announced plans to tighten gun regulations and ban semi-automatic rifles.

Those decisions have yet to be taken, but the Prime Minister has signaled that we are going to look at that issue,” said David Parker, the attorney general of New Zealand.

The mass shooting has sparked discussion of gun reform, and many were quick to compare the discussion of reform in New Zealand to the lack of action in the United States. Currently, New Zealand owners need a license for handguns and semi-automatic weapons. However, the most commonly used guns, like hunting rifles, are never registered and can be easily purchased.

“Our gun laws will change— now is the time,” Ardern stated Saturday. “People will be seeking change, and I am committed to that.”